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USA: Electric-vehicle drivers in Colorado to get a charge out of new law

Ford Frick, a board member with Colorado Conservation Trust, takes a 2012 Chevrolet Volt for a test drive last week at the stock-show complex. The Volt can cover 35 miles on an electric charge, after which it uses a gas-powered generator to provide electric power for another 375 miles.
For just $5,000, you too could own a filling station — selling not gas but electrons to anxious electric-vehicle drivers.

A new law, effective in August, slashes state regulation so that anybody can resell electricity. Traditionally, only utilities could do that.

Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper backed the law as a way to spur entrepreneurs to install e-chargers at grocery stores, hotels, malls, cafes and other urban spots. It is part of a broadening “electric vehicle readiness” campaign aimed at cleaning metro Denver’s ozone-prone air by shifting to battery-powered transport.

Today, about 1,200 electric vehicles (and 35,000 hybrids) are registered to roll on Colorado roads out of 5.1 million vehicles

The instrument panel in a Volt provides motorists with a reading of battery power available to the vehicle. The Chevy car can be charged from any standard household outlet. (Photos by Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
overall.
The problem of “range anxiety” — EV drivers worrying that they’ll run out of juice and be stranded — has emerged nationwide as a barrier.

Not having easy options to charge up quickly repels potential converts, said Tom Franklin, a lawyer who bought one of the first Nissan Leafs.

Franklin has been trying to persuade his wife to replace her ailing minivan with a Tesla Model S — instead of a gas sport utility vehicle.

“She says not only ‘No,’ but she says, ‘No way.’ The way she describes her feelings about electric vehicles, she’d feel as though the gas light is always on,” Franklin said.

He sees her point.

Flying back from California to Denver last fall, Franklin found he had improperly hooked his Leaf to a charger pump in the airport parking, so he was less than half-charged — right when he needed maximum range to race to Westminster for a work presentation and then back across Denver to his home in Arapahoe County.

Running really low by the time he reached Westminster, Franklin bolted through a Walmart parking lot, hunting for outlets he thought the retailer offered for RVs. Then he trolled a central shopping area, peering around trees for planters

General Motors employee Michael Strapazon, left, shows Colorado Conservation Trust board member Pete Leavell how to charge the Chevy Volt. (Karl Gehring, The Denver Post)
where city workers sometimes tap outlets for lighting up holiday Christmas trees. The first outlet was dead, but the second one worked, giving Franklin’s Leaf the charge he needed while he made his presentation.
The hunt for power sometimes makes Franklin feel like “a scavenger.”

“There are outlets in planters near trees in many downtown parking areas,” he said. “I’ve had to discover this.”

Colorado clean-technology industries sponsored the legislation aimed at enabling EV charging beyond homes. Auto dealers embraced it.

Car dealers “would support any legislation that would more speedily advance the infrastructure to support those vehicles we sell today — and those in the pipelines for our showrooms,” Colorado Automobile Dealers Association president Tim Jackson said.

Salesmen at metro car lots compared Leafs and Chevy hybrid Volts (a fully electric Spark is in the works) with laptop computers and flat-screen TVs — items for which prices quickly dropped so that many people could afford them.

Read more: Electric-vehicle drivers in Colorado to get a charge out of new law – The Denver Post http://www.denverpost.com/environment/ci_20926269/electric-vehicle-drivers-colorado-get-charge-out-new#ixzz1yj7KEKuT
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